Halloweekend

I hope everyone had a great Halloween!! Me and my friends celebrated by going to a club in Camden called KoKo. It was a huge venue with live music and lots of dancing. My friend from high school Paige was in London visiting from Dublin where she is studying abroad. Between my full time work schedule and her full time tourist schedule neither of us managed to pick up costumes. I think the looks we improvised were pretty good though. i went as a leopard – complete with spots, and Paige threw together a black widow spider look with lots of help from my roommate Tara.

Saturday we ventured to Portobello Market and wound up crashing in the Kensington Gardens that afternoon. My busy schedule has definitely  been catching up with me and I haven’t been feeling well the past few days so I decided to sit Saturday night out and relax. Paige had a flight to catch very early Sunday morning and took the same path that I did, but it was still a great weekend! I’m heading to Dublin next weekend to see Paige as well as my friend Sarah studying in Spain. They’re both turning 21 this weekend and I can’t wait to celebrate this milestone with them!

News to Me

It’s easy to loose track of the world studying abroad. Spending a semester in London can feel more like I’m on vacation than in college, but since I came to London I actually feel like I’ve been more tapped in to what is going on in the world. Every morning at my internship people gather to read the newspapers searching for stories that may effect our clients. On my way home from my internship I pick up an Evening Standard, a free evening newspaper available right outside of the tube. My commute home give me just enough time to brush up on the state of the world. With so much going on in the world from “Occupy Wall Street” to the state of the Euro it feels more important than ever to know what is going on. I hope that when I return to the US I make a point to stay just as up to date.

Meet Markets

After an exhausting but fulfilling first week at my internship with a PR agency here in London it was nice to fully take advantage of the weekend. Me and my friends had a great time checking out some of the best markets and neighborhoods in London.

Saturday we headed to Borough Market located right next to the Thames River. Borough Market is a foodies heaven. It’s located right under the train track and every spare inch is filled with food. The goods on sale range from common to the exotic. An Indian curry stall might be next to a French pastry vendor might be next to a British Cider stand. My friends Jess and Stephanie and I all had a great time browsing the different delicacies and grabbing as many free samples as we could manage. There are also phenomenal ingredients straight from the farm like olive oil, butter, poultry, meat, fruit, and veg. If only I could cook better and do any justice to these items I’d buy them all up in a heard beat. Luckily plenty of the cooking is taken care of for you at Borough Market. I picked up a traditional British chicken pot pie for just £3. My friend Steph picked up a chorizo sandwich, and Jess went for the chicken curry. After lunch we were all temped by dessert and picked up cheesecake as well.

To work off our meals we headed over the Tate Modern, London’s modern art museum. The museum occupies a large former power factory and every square inch is put to use. It was great being able to see some of my favorite artist’s work on display like Diane Arbus and Mark Rothko in addition to some other great artists.

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This afternoon me and my friends headed to Brick Lane, a spot I visited one of my first weeks in London, but couldn’t wait to return to. It’s an artsy neighborhood filled with lots of young people, vintage shops, and Indian food. It has a great market filled with tons of jewelry and clothing vendors as well. There’s also an amazing ethnic food market! I had delicious pad-thai for lunch that did a great job fueling my shopping. I was on a mission to pick up some gifts for my friends. I managed to get something for myself as well, a vintage blue tweet pencil skirt, that I can’t wait to wear to work next week.

Overall this was one of my favorite weekends so far in London. It was so fun exploring some of the different areas that make up this huge and diverse city.

Hola España

Sorry for the absence! Last week I finished up some of my classes and there is absolutely nothing worth bloging about in regards to papers and final exams.

The one upside of finals were that they signified mid-semester break. After finishing up all of my assignments I jetted off to Spain for the long weekend. Wednesday I arrived in Madrid with my friends Zach and Bree. We spent the afternoon wandering through the small streets, exploring the city, and enjoying the weather. The next day I split off from my friends to visit the Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid’s modern art museum. The most famous painting in their collection Guernica, Picasso’s tribute to the pain and suffering that occurred during the Spanish civil war. It was amazing being able to see such a historic and emotional painting in person.

After a few hours wandering around the museum I boarded a high speed train for Seville where my best friend Sarah is studying. It was awesome getting the chance to see where she is studying. Seville was such a small city compared to London and Madrid, and it was nice being able to explore a different city, if only for a night. I also got the chance to meet some of Sarah’s friends over a pitcher of sangria.

The next morning Sarah and I woke up early and boarded a plane for Barcelona. We arrived early and spent the day visiting different sites in the city. We took a tour of Casa Batlló, walked through the gothic quarter, and headed down to the beach for dinner where Sarah and I both ordered the most delicious seafood paella. That night we headed out to a club with other travelers from our hostel. The place we stayed organized nightly trips to different hotspots in Barcelona. I can’t think of anything more glamorous than dancing the night away at a club located right on the beach in Barcelona.

Saturday we walked to La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s most famous creation. People have accurately described La Sagrada Familia as a demented sand castle. We also visited an apartment building designed by Gaudi. That evening we headed back to the gothic quarter for a fantastic tapas dinner. After a few drinks at a local bar Sarah and I returned to our hostel, anticipating an early night in. When we arrived a group of guys from Bristol we had met the previous night heading out to the club were hanging around in the kitchen chatting with some Australian travelers. Sarah and I initially thought we were going to tuck in early that night, but we ended up staying up until 4am chatting, joking around, and sharing games with our new friends.

On our final day in Barcelona Sarah and I went to Guell Park, a park desined by Gaudi. The architecture was again amazing. His use of curves and mosaic is so beautiful, there’s very little in the world like it. Then we strolled through the city for a few more hours before heading back to the airport to return home.

I had such an amazing weekend! It was such a treat getting to spend so much time in such a beautiful country, with one of my favorite people in the world!

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COM Together

Boston University

Last night I had the opportunity to join the Assistant Dean of Student Services in the College of Communication (COM), Micha Sabovik, for an pint at a local pub. Micha is in London talking to students about BU’s graduate communication program, but she was able to take a night off to talk to the undergraduate communication students studying in London this semester. About 9 students joined Micha, who gladly treated us all to a drink and some greasy pub food, while we all discussed the different opportunities available at BU, especially in COM.

One of the things that has really impressed me about Boston University in the past two years is the sense of community. As a large, urban school many would expect BU is cold and impersonal. Sure, the winters are chilly, but the people at BU are anything but! I’ve been a part of the over 400 BU students choose to spend their Spring break volunteering throughout the US rather than returning home or going off to tropical resorts. I’ve gotten to know professors outside of class. I’ve even had the opportunity to join the Dean of Students for the entirety of BU or a barbecue at his house this past summer while I worked for BU’s admissions office. Being invited out for a drink with a Dean from COM passing through London should have come as no shock, but I’m always pleasantly surprised when someone or something at BU reminds me how much I love this school.

London

Such a Blast

My dad and his fiancé Lisa visited me in London this weekend! It was so great seeing some familiar faces as I’m surrounded by all of this newness. The three of us had a jammed packed two days, all of us trying to make the most out of their visit. In just 48 hours we managed to stroll through Portobello Market, ride the London Eye, catch the west end show The 39 Steps, enjoy some fine dining, visit the Tower of London, peruse the luxuries at Harrods, stuff ourselves full at high tea, shop a little bit at TopShop, and enjoy a pint at an English pub. I don’t think we could have had a more complete weekend in London! It’s such a gift having my family come visit me all the way in England, but getting to do so much as well, I felt completely spoiled.

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Sweet & Sour

One of the great things about being in London is the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom. For my History class we take lots of field trips to museums and historical places. This Friday we walked in the steps of the suffragettes and saw where they fought for the vote. It was amazing thinking about how hard these women fought to gain a voice. When women were supposed to be quiet and polite many women chose to stand up during political speeches, to march down the streets, to make sure they were heard. Because of their actions these women were often arrested and thrown in prison. In prison they were treated like common criminals, rather than the political prisoners they were. In protest of this treatment they would go on hunger strikes. The gaurds would then force feed the women – a traumatizing practice! When these measures didn’t work they turned militant, starting a guerilla campaign. The suffragettes went on to break the windows of parliament and other political buildings and set fires to churches. It’s so amazing how much these individual women risked and how much they went through to ensure that politicians would listen to women!

My public relations class went on a field trip this Thursday as well. We went to Cadbury World, a tourist destination devoted to Cadbury chocolate. The purpose of the field trip was to experience the various marketing tools Cadbury uses to represent their company. Cadbury World itself was kind of fun. There are cheesy displays and videos telling the story of how the company was founded and how chocolate was made. There was a model factory and even a ride where you rode in a little car along a track in Cadbury’s response to the “It’s a Small World” ride in Disney. The whole experience was really campy. It was fun seeing all the cheesy displays and there was plent Bournville y of chocolate to eat. While I learned a lot about Cadbury chocolate and their brand I didn’t feel like it was the most education trip I’ve been on. I didn’t feel like this trip enhanced what I learned in the classroom. The most frustrating part was  how long it took to get there. It took two different lines on the tube and two trains to get to, in Birmingham, where Cadbury World is located. I left my flat at 8:00am and didn’t arrive home until after 7:00. I feel like we could have had a more enriching field trip within London. My flatmates didn’t mind the chocolate I had brought home for them though!

Here are some pictures from my trip to Cadbury World

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Happy New Year

Being so far away from home makes it feel even more important to celebrate the holidays. Today marks the beginning of the holiest time of year for the Jewish people, the High Holy Days. Today was the first night of the High Holidays and also the Jewish New Year. I did’t want the New Year to pass me by so I asked a friend from one of my classes what he was doing for Rosh Hashanah. He had found a service at a nearby university and invited me to come along with him and a few other students from our program. I didn’t know what to expect but I was glad that I’d be able to stay connected to my family and my faith while here in London.

At 7:00 a few of us headed over to the services, which were being held by Chabad at Imperial College’s student union. While I don’t know much about Chabad I know it is an international organization that provides religious services for Jews all around the world. I was surprised when we were greeted by a hassidic rabbi and his very pregnant wife. Me and my friends were the first ones there and the rabbi’s wife introduced herself to us and invited us to light some candles with her to bring in the new year. Eventually more people arrived, just in time to start the service. The service was held in a large, wood paneled room  with two sections of seating divided down the middle by a makeshift partition constructed out of tables and chairs. Men and women sat separately on either side of the wall. This was out of the norm for me, having grown up in a reform Jewish community where men and women sit together. As we took our seats the rabbi informed us that in order to ensure people sat in the front rows during the service he had set up the chair backwards. He then asked everyone to turn their chair around so that the back rows of chairs become the new front. The rabbi then leaped into the service, breezing through the Hebrew, finishing the service in under an hour. This astonished me and my friends who were used to longwinded services. I guess they’re saving that for tomorrow.

After the service the rabbi and his wife provided a meal for everyone in attendance. By the time we all sat down to eat about 40 people had joined in! The rabbi and his wife provided a full meal, complete with the traditional foods like apples and honey to ensure a sweet new year, a round challah, and pomegranate. There was also salad, hummus, lox, chicken, rice, sweet potato pie, and cran-apple crumble. During the dinner I sat next to some other BU students but I also got the chance to meet American college students studying in London with other programs and a young French woman working in London for the year. It was especially interesting talking to the French woman about the different Jewish customs she grew up with, as apposed to us American Jews.

In the middle of dinner the rabbi asked everyone in attendance to stand up, introduce themselves, and share their New Years resolution. This year my new years resolutions definitely include being open, learning, and taking advantage of my opportunities. I’m so happy to be spending the New Year here in London and I can’t wait to see what the year 5772 holds!

It’s a Small World

While I fully expected to make new friends studying in London I didn’t anticipate the opportunities I’d have to connect with old friends. In October I will be going to Spain for 5 days and spending most of that time with one of my best friends Sarah. Sarah and I have known each other since fifth grade when we sat next to each other in Mrs. Deans class and wrote silly notes to each other to pass the time. She’s one of my favorite people to spend time with wether it’s a special occasion like Christmas or just a hot summer day in Ocean City. Next month I will be spending one day in Madrid with two of my friends from school before heading to Seville, where Sarah is studying, and then the two of us are heading to Barcelona for the weekend. Sarah is one of my favorite people and I’m so excited to travel with her!

In November I’m heading to Dublin for a very special occasion. Both Sarah and my friend Paige are turning 21. All three of us are meeting in Dublin, where Paige is studying, to celebrate this milestone. If the three of us had been at school in the States I’m not sure I would have gotten to see either of them for this special birthday, but because we’re all in Europe it seems important to make the point to get together! These two girls have been such amazing friends to me throughout middle school and high school and I’m so glad that I’ll be with them for their birthdays, in Dublin of all places! Let the beer and whiskey flow! kidding

The three of us all found ourselves in different colleges and now we’re all in different parts of Europe but we’re still close friends, which I think is so important!

Here’s a slideshow of Sarah, Paige, and me:

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also, I know this isn’t really about London, but I’m sure my next post will be more relevant

Missed Connections

Moving to a new city can be overwhelming at times. Moving away from friends and family, even if it’s just for a semester, and orienting to a new place is hard! Somehow, whenever I begin to feel a bit rundown I manage to run into an extra friendly stranger. These brief but exceptionally kind encounters help make living in London seem that much more manageable. Last night the cab driver taking me and my friends home from a night handed us some fatherly wisdom: all men are creeps (I guess that’s an international dad thing) and encouraged us to pick football teams (that’s soccer for us American’s) and become big fans. Today at the grocery store the woman checking me out commented on by Boston University sweatshirt and began telling me all about how much she enjoyed visiting Boston and eating in Quincy Market (don’t we all!). These short conversations are all it takes to really brighten my day and make me feel more at home in London.

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